I’m asking veteran local actors to name five dream roles and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers — even choices that may seem out of the box.
“Through the years I have been sickeningly fortunate to check off a lot of my bucket list roles. Though of course there are several that got away — oh, wouldn’t it have been loverly? That being said, like any actor, I have a list that keeps morphing as time goes on. The 2014 version”:
1.) Barbara in August: Osage County, by Tracy Letts. “I love this play. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it several times and each time I was sorry, after three-plus hours, to leave this crazy, dysfunctional family and these very real characters. The Weston’s oldest daughter, Barbara is funny, commanding, strong; her moments of discovery reveal a vulnerability that is heart-breaking. I would love a crack at this complex character. ‘Eat the fish, bitch!’”
2.) Sally in Follies, lyrics/music by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Goldman. “Can I choose one I’ve already done, at least in concert? I’m going to, because the fabulous 2014 Cygnet Theatre concert staging whetted my appetite to delve further into her. Follies is a beautiful show, though the challenges of producing it are well known. As time moves on the themes of regret and reflection on paths not taken mean so much more to me. And oh – that wonderful score.”
3.) Margie in Good People, by David Lindsay-Abaire. I got to play her for a reading earlier this year. Even though the characters are from the economic margins of post-9/11, the play’s so beautifully written that the audience senses how high the stakes are. Margie’s desperation is palpable, and she goes to extremes to be a ‘good’ person. This doesn’t always make her likeable. But it does make her human, and I love that.”
4.) Margaret in The Light in the Piazza, music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, book by Craig Lucas. “She may or may not have contributed to a childhood accident that left her daughter with compromised mental abilities, but when she sees her daughter’s love for a young Florentine, she defiantly allows her to pursue a life with him, realizing that the chance for love outweighs the risks. How’s that for a plotline? Plus, it’s some of the most gorgeous music I’ve ever heard in a theater. It is challenging stuff to sing, and Margaret’s dramatic arc is as compelling as you’ll find in a theater piece, musical or not.
5.) Mother in Ragtime, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally. “Kind and gracious yet defiant of social conventions, Mother comes to her own through the course of the play and represents an emerging feminism in turn-of-the-century America. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this glorious musical as an ensemble member – I’m desperate for a promotion before it’s too late.”